Wednesday 18th July 2018

How Did My Blog Start? 22/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.45.

How Did My Blog Start? 22/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.45.

In late 2010 I started a blog called Memories By Denyse.

The purpose, back then, was two-fold. It was to chart the story of the life of my husband as his memory became affected by what we were told was early dementia. It was also to showcase my photos because I take photos for memories.

Great start! Yes AND No.

  • getting a website and domain name was easy through my internet providor and they hosted (still do) the blog.
  • I found someone on line to set up the blog and then I had NO IDEA of what to do to change anything. And it really meant me paying others!
  • I’d like to say here is that first post but no. In fact almost all of my posts from 2010-2014 are now either in draft or gone to bloggy heaven.

So, what happened?

  • never one to do things simply, I decided after the first ever Aussie Blogging conference in March 2011 that I needed to write about more.
  • of course I did. So I added education. After all I was a retired principal. I also thought I could help both parents and teachers.
  • in fact in 2012 I was a guest blogger speaker at the Digital Parents Conference in Melbourne telling ‘my story’. Oh. It’s still on YouTube somewhere and I cringe because…
  • it was found that sometime that year that my husband’s so-called medical condition was the FAULT of every darned medication two specialists served up to him based on mis-diagnoses.

Hold on, I am going too fast! 

  • when I decided to go down the three blogs route because I could write about them, I complicated my on-life with: Memories By Denyse, Ready.Set.School. and Ready.Set.Teach. Yes. I even copyrighted my names and intellectual property.
  • Hold ON!
  • OK. I am stopping to explain that I started again (still had the domain name and could add as many blogs as I liked) WITH the most patient man ever. MY computer techie guy as I call him.
  • I met him in a local cafe and with the help of MY hand drawn examples, he came up with the way to make all three blogs work for me on-line. And after all this time, if I run into a blog issue I can call him. He’s the best and most generous person and does my work pro-bono! He did HAVE to give me lessons though. The main one was: Keep the number of plugins small & reduce the file size of your photos (yes, Craig, I have!)
  • They were all wordpress models using my own hosting.
  • But I over-did it. By spreading things too thin.
  • I used my skills and talents outside blogging with parent groups and pre-service teachers and a person blog for me. I used to tell stories about our family (not naming names) and with permission I used pics of the grandkids.
  • I was also teaching at Uni, caring for grandkids on some days of the week, and spreading the word on school readiness via my education consultancy business
  • I blogged up to 4-5 times a week and linked up. Back then there was a link up for each week day and on weekends it was Weekend Rewind.

What made me stop and think?

  • Blogging certainly brought me many new friends via commenting, blog link ups and social media. That was great. I continue to be grateful for that once I had fully retired from teaching at all levels and grandchild care.
  • Blogging for money was the goal at one stage for many bloggers and not wanting to be left out, I did some sponsored posts for a company who gave me a grant to attend a conference in Melbourne. (remember the My Family Stickers??)
  • I started to consider the ramifications of advice I was giving on the two education-based blogs and as I had to take out personal indemnity insurance for my education consultancy (costly, over $1000 annually) and blogging was taking OFF ….when I read about Blogging and The Law.
  • School Principal me considered a lot that was being disseminated and over the time of 2014 two of  my three blogs shut down at my request.
  • I did not keep many posts at all. It also helped me with costs at the hosting end to delete a lot of the blogging posts and photos and I do not regret that.
  • The posts relating to the family were all deleted and trashed (sounds terrible) at the hosting end even though there were no identifiers but I felt better as time past that there would be no digital footprints as any searches sent people to 404 error message.
  • It felt a bit sad when it came time to renew the hosting and the domain names but I let them go to focus on:

Denyse Whelan Blogs.

  • I needed something familiar and connecting me to others when we moved away from all I knew. Family, Sydney and Work.
  • I made a commitment from 1 January 2015 to blog EACH and EVERY day.
  • Yes, I did that until sometime in 2016 when I eased back but for sometime I blogged via topics which I continue to use as a guide today. I had a friend I met when I was making a logo to attend a conference who helped me greatly with these graphics in 2016. Thank you Tanya!
  • By 2017 and into 2018 this blog posts on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the topics vary. See above!
  • I linked up to the link ups that I knew were still around back then, but slowly they shrivelled up too.
  • Blogging was not something everyone continued. Many focussed on jobs once kids were at school. Some became dissillusioned with the blogging promise. 
  • By 2014 there was no more Digital Parents and some groups emerged on Facebook. Problogger conferences were/are the only ones that are around. I went to one in Melbourne in 2012.
  • In 2016 I got the opportunity to host my own link up and chose Mondays as Kirsty had retired her link up. Alicia has a link up too on Mondays as does Kell.
  • In 2017 Leanne made a Thursday link up as did Sue and Leanne each Wednesday
  • Kylie hosts I Blog on Tuesdays after Jess retired her blog.
  • There are far fewer bloggers linking up these days and my view is that people are busy with life, are not blogging much and to commit to a link up would mean commenting more and some just do not have the time.

Why Are Link Ups Important?

  • On a personal level I know that I get more people reading and commenting than if I just posted.
  • I deliberately do not have an email sign up because I did and I had few people sign up.
  • I know rely on my Bloglovin’ follow on my blog and me adding my posts to facebook.
  • But I love link ups because I get to meet new bloggers and that is the joy of blogging,

Connecting is Why I Blog.

  • When I returned to full-time blogging in 2015 my blog’s name is Denyse Whelan Blogs (then I added) To Connect.
  • Humans thrive on connection and on-line is one of my daily ways to do so.
  • Moving to a new area and three house moves in that time means that many of my connections are as they say in the computer.
  • I will continue to blog as long as I enjoy it and I have people reading and adding their comments. The conversations are the best!
  • Last year my cancer diagnosis was one very big example of the connections and care in the blogging community and I am always grateful for that.

Tell Me, How Did Your Blog Start?

I know not all of my readers are bloggers but I am really looking forward to reading everyone’s stories if they have decided to follow the optional prompt.

Denyse.

On Mondays I link up with Alicia here.

Life This Week 22/52.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 23/52. What I Will Never See Again. 4/6/18. 


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Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Introduction.

In 2013 I was looking for something to give me some level of contentment. It was a pretty stressful time in my life and it was a shout-out from Deb Dane who blogs here that changed my life for the better.

That IS a big call, I know!

A R T was it. But back then I was both curious and shy. I had ALWAYS enjoyed creating colourful and crafty classrooms for kids, and then as grandchildren came along I joined the scrapbooking phenomenon of the 1990s and beyond. I also did a college class on sketching when I first retired.

But A R T for ‘arts-sake’ was surely for more talented people than I am. 

Finding My Place as an Artist.

Oh seriously it took some time to apply this term to me but as one of my art gurus said ‘what are the rules for this?’. Rule-maker and keeper me realised I was the one limiting myself. Deb suggested I join the group on Facebook called DaisyYellow and take part in their Index-Card-A-Day challenge from June to July every year. In 2013 I joined, became a devotee, even signing on as a moderator in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 I did the challenge until it was time for my cancer surgery in early July.

This post explains more about it. I thank Tammy Garcia, the founder, for much of her encouragement of my art. Some examples here of my interpretation of the daily prompts in 2016. These are all created on (old speak) 6inch x 4 inch index cards.

What’s An Art Kit?

I credit learning more about art from being a member of this on-line group as above. It’s a free website and there are minimal costs for certain activities. However, as in all things in life, it was time for me to decide what I wanted in an art kit and what would be its purpose.

You know when you are caught waiting in a room for an appointment or sitting in the car waiting for someone and whilst you could look at your phone or read an old magazine there is this idea! An Art Kit.

I always had small one in my bag when we lived in Sydney and then somehow when we moved and I was mainly being at home, I got out of the habit of keeping one. It was when I had to go to hospital last July I thought I needed to take some art materials for when I was recovering AND cognisant. I was right! In 2017 I was obsessed with mandalas! I was designing and drawing them, making patterns to colour later. They were (and still are) a very MINDFUL activity for me. I made a large version of an art kit with my A4 book with pre-drawn circles and some lines on many pages, added in some Unipin pens, some colouring pens and I was set. I did not watch TV at night in hospital, I drew mandalas and they helped in my mood and physical recovery as I relaxed!

Now I am getting dress with purpose every day, one thing I do is go out for a solo coffee. I have been doing that for more than 2 months now and I am loving it. I get to people watch, sip a favourite coffee, sometimes try to eat something nice, and play with ART. Here I am last Friday at a local cafe. By the way, it took me about two goes not to feel self-conscious so now it’s second nature!

Next post I will add more details about:

  • materials I use that might be expensive initially but ‘pay for themselves’ in terms of lasting and quality
  • some ways in which art has helped my emotional health improve
  • how all of us can make art in a way that is meaningful to us and how to shut up the critic’s voice
  • ideas for colouring-in those lovely patterns and pictures in books and freebies on-line
  • and anything you might choose to ask me questions about in the comments!!

I hope this has been helpful.

I wrote this post as a response to Vanessa Smith’s comment recently and she blogs here. Another blogging friend, also named Vanessa and blogs here  is now colouring mindfully and this post may be of interest but the next one will be more so I think.

Happy Art-ing everyone!

Denyse.

 

Joining Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and on Thursdays I join in the Lovin’ Life Linky with Leanne here.

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Denyse is A ‘Baby Boomer’ Who Blogs. 2017.120.

Denyse is A ‘Baby Boomer’ Who Blogs. 2017.120.

The point of this post is that I wish to be a blogger who connects all with age groups which includes those closer to mine. I am in my late 60s (a Baby Boomer for sure) and want my voice to be heard, and words to be read by a wide range of people. I am blessed to have many people come here to read and connect. I want to have more from the demographic of the over 60s and beyond. How I do that is something I am seeking advice about from you! I would be delighted if you could read this long post and add some wisdom for me to extend my words and pics into a bigger and broader community. I remain very happy where I am to date, but at almost 68 I would like more! Thank you, Denyse. xx

Why I started a blog.

In 2010, at 61, I started  this blog. It was after I had retired (again) from a part-time teaching role in a K-6 school as an English as  A Second Language Teacher. I was ready to be at home with my similarly-aged husband and to help care for some young grandchildren through the week.

I wanted to share my knowledge, skills and passions from education and living life in the senior years with an on-line readership.

It was important for me to connect as I no longer had a social group outside of home once I stopped work.

Twitter, back then, was a great place for conversations and ‘meeting’ people and as @denwise1 I loved it. I made REAL friends from this and as a commenter back then, on a great new site called mamamia, I got a clue that my writing of my life experiences may resonate to help others.

I can now be found on twitter here: @denysewhelan1

I’m also have an instagram account which is private as I was hacked: find me by this name and ask for the follow:  @denysewhelanblogs

The Facebook page for this blog is here.   I have conversations on Facebook as Denyse Whelan Blogs. Over 65 Sharing Stories About Life.

Denyse – post cancer surgery – Sept 2017.

Some history of blogging from me and about Australian blogging too.

In 2011 I went to the first Australian Blogging Conference, held in Sydney, and called Aussie Bloggers. Later in that year I went to 2 other blogging events. I met so many bloggers who remain on the top of my list of blogs now  and they have gone on to make businesses of their blogging: Mrs Woog from Woogsworld, Beth from Baby Mac, Nikki from Styling You, and writers/journalists such as Rick Morton, Donna Webeck, Bianca Wordley, Megan Blandford, Eden Riley and Lisa Mclean. Later at a book launch for Kerri Sackville, I met Lana Hirschowitz, Chantelle Ellem, Kylie Ladd and many more.

In my life as an educator I could never have met people such as these and so my world was widened as a result of blogging. In fact, in 2012 I was selected to Tell My Story at the Digital Parents Conference. The story has evolved somewhat since then, but the esssence of wanting to connect remains.

Why three blogs did not work for me. 

I was pumped in 2012 to mid- 2014 and wanted to be my usual enthusiastic and sharing self. I knew I had skills and knowledge AND experience for families with kids starting school and already at school. Families were letting me know at the meetings I held in pre schools that this was so helpful for them. I knew from my University teaching days interacting with pre-service K-6 teachers I had information and help for their future careers that they told me was great. I also knew I loved sharing both my life, and to an extent my family and back then grandchildren were not exempted by me or their parents. So the 3 blogs!

Ready Set School was one. Ready Set Teach was the second. Denyse Whelan was the third.

Was I busy? Heck yes. Did I have quality content? I thought so but as someone once told me, maybe much of what I wrote about would already be on MUCH bigger sites than mine such as kid spot. It was disappointing that the follow-through promised by the young teachers did not come through either. I had professionally designed and set up blogs, I had a newsletter each month, and I tweeted and facebooked for each blog. It turned out for MUCH more effort and little or no return. I attended Pro Blogger and other conferences. I commented on many people’s blogs and I joined in every.single.link.up. that was relevant.

When I began one blog, found new readers and got my own link-up.

With the interruptions of life for this now 67 year old called: selling a house, renting in a new area to your ‘home’, resigning and retiring from ALL paid work in education, becoming unwell with stress-based illness including IBS, leaving the family we love behind…I KNEW even back in late 2014 as all this was unfolding that I would need to connection and SOMETHING to do each day of my new life.

Back to the one blog along with each and every day and writing as if my life depended on it.

It actually did on some days in early 2015 when I was so sad and broken that the ONLY thing to choose to do was to blog.

I wrote a daily blog post from 1 January 2015 until sometime in November 2016 when it no longer seemed relevant to ‘post daily’. In fact it was freeing and the job of the blog connecting me to more people had been a success via Link Ups.

My link up, Life This Week on Mondays started in early September 2016 and has continued with only 2 weeks break (cancer surgery for me – see here to know more) and usually has about 16 bloggers link. It is a friendly space and I enjoy the interactions and blog reading. On Tuesdays I link an original post to I Blog on Tuesdays and repeat the post in another link up called Lovin Life & that is it for now

Why I want to reach more readers who are ‘baby boomers’.

I love connecting with my current audience of readers, many of whom are also bloggers. These people are in the thirties and forties and I can relate to their lives from my long ago experiences ( I guess) and from what I see happening in my own children’s and grandchildren’s lives. I also connect with those who are blogging about entering the middle years. Those from the over fifties and up. I like what I read there too but still, I have moved past this age as well. What to do? I am not one to sit and wait nor to give up an idea so what I am going to do is post on another day each week about life as someone in the ‘over 65s’ group.

 

Born in 1949 I am a Baby Boomer and this is but one collage from babyhood to this year. Before my mouth cancer surgery.

There is much to say. There may not be a large audience to read nor share but maybe I am calling that prematurely. I am hoping that bloggers who are already part of the link up each Thursday with Leanne here might have some advice after reading this introduction as a linked post.

I would be happy to hear what people (over the age or under it) are interested in reading more about. I do have a lot to add to society and conversations here from an Australian Baby Boomer Blogger (that’s me!) may be the ideal way to do this.

Self-set Challenge to have a photo every day until I turn 68. Making the effort to co-ordinate my clothes even though I go nowhere much at all these days

I hope that this post has made some sense and that you may have some advice for me too.

Thank you for reading!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and with Leanne for Lovin’ Life linky here on Thursdays.

 

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How I Learn Best. #LifeThisWeek 21/52. 2017.71.

How I Learn Best. #LifeThisWeek 21/52. 2017.71.

I am revisiting this post today here with Sammie  for her weekend linky The Ultimate Rabbit Hole on 17.6.2017.

There are some people who like to learn in particular ways and I have always found that fascinating. When I was teaching University students doing their Masters of Teaching I would ask them if they knew their preferred learning style. Some would not until I asked questions such as: “do you want to see everything written to absorb your learning?” (V)

“do you like to talk something through?” (A)

“are you someone who likes to move about, play with the pen and chew it as you are learning?” (K)

Now I understand these are very basic examples of: Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic learning styles. Recently there has been some debunking of the theory but as an experienced teacher and parent I still maintain it is important we know our learning styles and therefore get to know the styles of our  family members, class members, colleagues and so on. But why?

C O M M U N I C A T I O N      and   C O N N E C T I O N   with our fellow humans!

Often we use some of each of the 3 learning styles but there is usually a preference for one. My quiz results (from the link below) confirmed what has always been the case for me: I am V.K.A. Visual is waaaay ahead with a score here of 17, Kinaesthetric scored 10 and Auditory was….1. So, I need to see, read, note and often write as a learn. That way I am using my visual style, and adding in the writing I am using the need to move. I have so many notes that are illegible but by writing I have been using two styles to remember and learn. I am also a picture person. I see scenes, words and stories all the time in my head. Visual.

What I learned a long time ago is “not everyone learns or even thinks like I do” this was a shock but actually it showed my ignorance and I have never made that mistake since. I was in a meeting with my office secretary and staff and we were planning and I asked about imagining some scenario that would help our planning move forward. My secretary looked at me blankly and with some gentle probing I was astounded when she told me she had no idea about visualising anything and she was, apparently, a  kinaesthetic and auditory learner.

I never assumed anyone’s learning style from that day! I also know that I am visually oriented first by my love of photography, reading, creating art and so on. I don’t mind music but I cannot listen when I want to concentrate. My husband is more auditory and kinaesthetic with visual last. He always has music on when studying.

This is a link to a quiz from Swinburne University which you (or anyone) can take but it needs to be printed out first. There is also an explanation about the meanings of the learning styles.

VAK Learning Styles Explanation

The VAK learning styles model suggests that most people can be divided into one of three preferred styles of learning. These three styles are as follows, (and there is no right or wrong learning style):

  •  Someone with a Visual learning style has a preference for seen or observed things, including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, displays, handouts, films, flip-chart, etc. These people will use phrases such as ‘show me’, ‘let’s have a look at that’ and will be best able to perform a new task after reading the instructions or watching someone else do it first. These are the people who will work from lists and written directions and instructions.
  •  Someone with an Auditory learning style has a preference for the transfer of information through listening: to the spoken word, of self or others, of sounds and noises. These people will use phrases such as ‘tell me’, ‘let’s talk it over’ and will be best able to perform a new task after listening to instructions from an expert. These are the people who are happy being given spoken instructions over the telephone, and can remember all the words to songs that they hear!
  •  Someone with a Kinaesthetic learning style has a preference for physical experience – touching, feeling, holding, doing, practical hands-on experiences. These people will use phrases such as ‘let me try’, ‘how do you feel?’ and will be best able to perform a new task by going ahead and trying it out, learning as they go. These are the people who like to experiment, hands-on, and never look at the instructions first!People commonly have a main preferred learning style, but this will be part of a blend of all three. Some people have a very strong preference; other people have a more even mixture of two or less commonly, three styles.When you know your preferred learning style(s) you understand the type of learning that best suits you. This enables you to choose the types of learning that work best for you.There is no right or wrong learning style. The point is that there are types of learning that are right for your own preferred learning style.Please note that this is not a scientifically validated testing instrument – it is a free assessment tool designed to give a broad indication of preferred learning style(s).More information about learning styles, personality, and personal development is at www.businessballs.com.With acknowledgements to Victoria Chislett for developing this assessment.  Swinburne University.

I chose this prompt today because it is relevant for us all.

It is good to know what your preferred learning style is for any given situation, even cooking!
And if you are a parent it is important to realise that your learning style may not be your children’s and then that can maximise understanding and minimise conflict!
So, do you know ‘how you learn best?’
I hope this has been a helpful post!
Denyse.

Thank you for being part of Life This Week.

Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Here are the rules for the link-up “Life This Week” is a link up that runs every Monday and remains live for until Thursday at 5 p.m.during that week. * You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Do come back next week. Next week’s prompt is “Hobbies”.

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When You Know You KNOW. 2017.30.

When You Know You KNOW. 2017.30.

It is said that ‘when you know…you know.’ Do you agree?

I could apply it to some life choices I’ve made, including the acceptance of my now husband’s proposal.

Sometimes it can be applied to finishing up…leaving..stopping…whatever life is bringing you.

For me, the time I knew what I knew was here:

More than a year prior to when this photo was taken, I had retired from my University tutor/marker role. I still continued to have my small consultancy to pre-schools open but it too was brought to a halt thanks to the distance from the workplace and where we now lived but I also knew it was time. I loved continuing with teacher development  as an External Observer with NSW Board of Studies in 2015, however, changes to the structure there meant that my qualifications no longer met the new standards and that worked well for me to say goodbye.

There was ONE more professional role I enjoyed. It did not pay me, nor would I want it too. It was, however, a wonderful place and space in which to share my experiences and be part of a highly engaged professional community. This is via meetings called Teach Meets. And it was to be held back in Sydney’s Northern Beaches at my old High School! Of course I wanted to speak..and have a last look around my ‘old school’ from the 1960s!!

This post tells much more about the talk I gave that evening.

But, something within in me KNEW that this would be the last time I would be involved in any paid/volunteer role in education and I felt both glad and sad. However, I KNEW it was what I knew and I was so pleased to have made the choice for myself.

Here. Where I went to High School from age 12-17. Where I had decided to become a teacher if my HSC results were good enough. They were.

Manly Girls High School in my day..now a Senior School for Yrs 11 & 12 on Northern Beaches

It was the right choice! Both to start…and to stop..here!

1962. First cohort for the ‘new’ Wyndham Scheme HS kids. 6 years of HS. I am second from left 3rd row.

Some parts of the school were unchanged since I left in 1967.

I loved having a personalised tour from the Principal of my ‘old school’. Much had changed, but this view had not. From the ‘canteen’ area.

Giving my final talk as part of Teach Meet in August 2015. I have no regrets. I have an amazing number of memories. I also remain in touch with educators via social media and continued to enjoy the conversations but I am glad to no longer have any professional responsibilities.

Last time for this!

I’m a great believer in knowing when to go!

Are you?

What decisions did you make because you ‘knew’?

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here and the bloggers who Blog On Tuesdays.

Linking with Leanne for Lovin Life here on Thursdays.

 

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The Time Has Come. 366/321.

The Time Has Come. 366/321.

I’ve been procrastinating….for about a decade!

The idea for a memoir has been there for a while I will admit.

But it has always seemed less important than say, writing a blog which I have been for 6 years now.

And it also seemed hard to get started because where would I.. ok, I know, at the beginning!

I have made some memory books for my parents’ anniversaries and special birthdays. In fact there are around 8 of them made from 1984 to 2006.

I’ve also kept books of memories for the grandchildren and have handed them over to them for keeping their memories from Grandma.

I have made small starts to ‘my story’ and then stopped because “boring”.

Who would want to read it anyway?

Then after my post here last week this happened:

From a friend and blogger, Rebecca Bowyer,  who is also a writer….

Oh how fascinating! Denyse, please write a memoir about education! It would be so interesting x

Here’s her website and she is also writing a book right now!

And so it is, after a few on-line convos with Bec, that I AM starting this challenge…writing my memoir.

To begin in the hardest act, and fortunately I had made a very small start which I continued and improved so now, I am planning to get on with the story, one story at a time.

Mind you I did tweet, taking a leaf out of Anne Lamott’s Book “Bird by Bird” that I am writing “Word by Word.”

IMG_0317 MY degrees & quals

Note Paper with yellow pencil

Have you ever thought about writing a story about your life or helped write the story of another?

What tips do you have?

What would you like to know more about me and my education story?

Thanks for reading and commenting …last week in particular where it was so encouraging about the story of the HSC and the end of school exams!

Denyse.

education 150

Joining the lovely bloggers here as I always do on Tuesdays….Kylie Purtell is host.

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My Morning By A Principal. 366/285.

My Morning By A Principal. 366/285.

I was a school principal in NSW public schools for part of the 1990s and early 2000s. The role of principal has changed as far as added technologies, 24/7 communications, pressures from more entities along with direct and indirect accountability.  Essentially though, the day-to-day has not changed significantly. This account  is based on a typical morning of mine from my role then. I add, it was fun to write it and be a leader in NSW schools was a privilege not given to many, but I admit to being glad to have retirement status now. I hope you enjoy the read. Denyse.

IMG_1784

7.30 a.m. Drive to School.

Do not think about school. Much. I tell myself. I listen to news & to traffic reports. Then comes the phone call from Executive Staff who cannot find a casual teacher for Class 5K. Think ‘oh no’ not 5K teacher away again. Oh. Tell Executive Staff member to keep on calling central casual booking office till they find someone.

8.00 a.m. Arrive at School.

Park car in space for ‘Principal’ after waiting for the service truck to pull out of there after delivering ice creams to the canteen. Get Out Of Car. Come on, you can do it! Mobile rings. “I found a teacher for 5K but it will be 10 a.m till he can get here”. See you in a minute.

8.10 a.m. Walk up Stairs to Main Building Where Office is.

Notice that bins have not been emptied. Again. Make note in admin book for cleaning supervisor to see. I place lunch in fridge and hope to see it again at lunchtime (that would be a record!!). Greet the early birds in the staffroom with warm smile as they chat about day ahead and ask “have you put your footy tips in for this week?” I will!

8.15 a.m. Unlock Office Door. The room looks exactly as it did at end of day yesterday at 6.00 p.m.

Start computer, after putting my bag down (finally!), and wait for the emails (that did not get checked at home this morning) to flood in. They do. Office Admin Staff pop in with snail mail and warm greetings. It is nice to start the day that way! Oh no. There’s more to the greeting. “A parent” from the “class we all know well” needs to see you stat.

8.20 a.m. Parent Meeting. Matters Discussed: attitude of teacher to ‘his child’ and ‘homework’.

Listen and make notes as well as reassure the parent that I will be following up with issues discussed with the teacher and will be back to him by the end of the day. Parent leaves reluctantly as he does like a good whinge chat but the bell for playground duty has sounded.

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8.30 a.m. Playground Duty. Morning. Once A Week.

Ideally the principal would LOVE to be out and about meeting and greeting families as the children arrive at school but school-business of all kinds can take precedence inside. One morning on playground duty is one way of sharing the teachers’ duties more fairly and getting to experience ‘first-hand’ what is happening on that day, with the kids and the school. So this is why I did playground duty!

9.00 a.m. Morning Outside Assembly. Led by The Principal.

In this school of over 400 students it is the one time each child and teacher is together in the one space to start the day. Families do hang around a little to hear announcements which are kept brief but are encouraged to leave so the school day starts with less distraction and more concentration on the day ahead. As the children leave in lines, with the class teacher, I observe them and note that one of the support staff has taken 5K until the relief teacher gets here. Then….just as I am about to leave the area I am found. By my office manager. That’s her job!!

9.05 a.m – 11.00 a.m. First Of My Day’s Business Via The Messages, Phone Calls, People Waiting to See Me and MORE!

  • respond to requests from my office manager for signature on documents and checking first that all is there as needed
  • speak to waiting people who are there for reasons such as monitoring the back to base security alarms, wanting to tell me about a new product for student reporting, a sales rep from a school photography company and many more who often ‘turn up’. I choose to meet outside my office with some of these people as it can be more time efficient and I also may refuse to see someone unless there is a valid reason. Schools can be seen as ‘cash cows’ by some less reputable firms and I have full responsibility for financial management
  • new families waiting to meet me and to enrol their children. With or without an appointment, these people take priority and once my office manager has verified their eligibility via residence, age of child and more, then I invite them in and off we go on the process. This can take from 15 minutes to an hour.
  • phone calls and emails from families, my superiors, other schools, the staff and so on are managed as they come in (or can be left until later) and are done in between face to face meetings.
  • moving around the school to visit classrooms is a priority but cannot always occur when more urgent business comes up. However, there is a plan to see at least one class per day and to interact with the children as much as possible.
  • when out and about around the school I observe the physical resources of the school making note of any potential repairs required or areas which may need closer maintenance and discuss this with the two days a week grounds person. Of course, if he is not in, I note it in the communication book and we chat once he is back. Anything urgent, I place safety barriers/tape around the area and ensure the staff and children know about it and report it to the company responsible for maintenance of our school.
  • I may have time to visit the ‘loo when I am out of the office and this is important!!
  • I may receive a visit from class reps who want to show me their ‘lovely work’ and this is always a reason to stop, and invite the children in.
  • As I am the only non-teaching executive in the school, I try hard not to interrupt the teaching day of my fellow executive staff and wait for them to be on face to face release for our meetings. Each Monday we get together over lunch for an executive meeting cover all the issues relevant to the school and wider education community.
  • I may be called, via the internal phone system to a classroom where a child is having some behavioural issues and it may escalate. The policies I introduced via our school management will help here, but in the end it may be ‘just me’ and perhaps a member of the support staff to help calm a situation. Each situation must be dealt with fairly and with no or minimal risk to the students and ourselves. I have had to, in the past, ensure a rescue of students from areas out of bounds including up on a roof and escaping outside the grounds. Fortunately each of these was resolved safely but they did require a LOT of follow up and in some cases, a new program, class or even school for the student. That is an extreme outcome.

 

Note Paper with yellow pencil

11.00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. Morning Break For Students and Staff.

We chose to add 10 minutes to this break and take 10 minutes from the longer lunch break once schools were able to make internal timetable changes themselves. This one gives us 10 minutes eating, then 20 minutes at play and gives all teachers at least a 10 minute break for self-care. I have learned to grab my cuppa a few minutes before the bell, sit with my office staff to recover  chat about the morning and prepare for the rest of the day/week. I like this time to talk with teachers or just listen! Sometimes its their only time to connect with more of the staff and with me. A lot gets covered and there are noticeboards with info as well as pigeonholes for them to check the latest…and of course, emails. 

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11.30 a.m. – Midday. Children Assemble Outside Their Rooms and Return to Class.

I spend some time outside while this is happening as it is another way of connecting with the students and I am scanning the areas to ensure that it is safe, all the children are back where they should be and that teachers have arrived to take their classes. On time. It is always my hope anyway!! 

Rather than go straight back to the office, this is time for another walk around these large grounds where I can ascertain that the repairs which were supposed to have been completed to the fence after the last storm have been done. I see that there are classes which stayed outside to complete their fitness after recess and it’s good to know the all-weather sport court is used! It cost a fortune!

Next time I will post about My Afternoon By A Principal.

So, how did you find reading this?

Are you surprised by anything in this?

Does it seem like a role you might enjoy?

Let me know in the comments!

Denyse.

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Joining with Kylie Purtell and friends over here for I Blog On Tuesdays.

 

 

 

 

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